Monday, February 1, 2016

Out of the Woods

These are a couple of photos of my apiary taken last winter between January and February. I think we got 1'-2' of snow every Monday during that timeframe.

Here is a photo I took today. Daffodils are coming up! What a difference!

Today it was 57 deg. F, and the girls seized the opportunity to make evacuation flights. My car was covered in yellow splotches, so I now refer to it as the Poop Mobile. When you say it outloud, it sounds a lot like Pope Mobile, but the reality is far less glamorous.

The ladies were even hauling stuff back in their pollen baskets. It could be dust from bird feeders or yummies from my compost pile (which was teeming with bees). On the other hand, I've heard some people say they have snowdrops already. Others are reporting a bit of willow action starting up. It's kind of bizarre really, but I'm ok with the idea of an early spring. Although, that means I need to get a jump on making some new hives.

Something else that I found odd was that none of the bees were robbing out the pollen and remaining honey in Persephone (the one that absconded). I'll keep an eye on that. If they haven't robbed her out by spring, I'm just going to melt all those combs. To my way of thinking, if the girls won't touch those stores, there must be a reason.

Otherwise, all seems well. I hefted the nucs, and they seem heavy enough to get through at least another month. Knock on wood, but I think I'm out of the woods.


  1. Glad to see that your hives are doing well. It's good to keep an eye on them because there's still plenty of winter left! Can you plug the entrance holes of Persephone to prevent any robbing?

    1. Yes, you're right, we should still have four more weeks until the swamp cabbage starts blooming. On the other hand, it's crazy warm. Temps in the 50's are predicted for the entire week!

      I'm leaving Persephone's mouse guard on, but her entrance open. She's completely empty, so I'm actually hoping they'll rob her out. It saves me from feeding and worrying about their stores. OK, it sounds lazy when I say it like that, but I have to be practical!

  2. Quite a change from last year. I remember my sister talking about her kids having every Monday off in January due to snow. The polar vortex is heading your way next week. That should slow spring down. ;-) In the mean time, I just shoveled 6" of snow and it's still coming down! I'm ready for some more warmth!

    We do what works and if you want her to get robbed out, I say go for it!

    1. Dang, you're right. I just looked at the long-range forecast, and it shows a high of 32 next Monday. :-(

      Snow! Yuck! You could look on the bright side, though -- the longer you shovel, the warmer, you'll get. ;-)

  3. It's really nice to have a taste of early spring. My girls cover my car too. The only odd thing, that I had never seen before was bee fighting only 7 or 8 where doing it outside the hive on the ground. At first I thought robbing and wondered about shutting the hive. I watched some more to see if I could see bees taken anything out of the hive, nothing leaving. I'm guessing that they might be tossing out some drones. Does that sound reasonable? They also did some housekeeping dumping their dead right outside the hive. Guess I won't have a true idea until spring comes for real. Fingers crossed that we're all out of the woods.

    1. That's curious about the fighting you noticed. Were you able to take a close look? Sometimes, my girls have a hard time pulling dead bodies through the hardware screen, so quite a few will get in on the action, and they get very excited.

      On the other hand, your theory about drones could be reasonable, too. Were you able to get a close look? People think bees always kick the drones out during the fall, but that's not always the case. If the bees feel they have enough stores, they will often keep the drones well into winter. My first year, I kept waiting and waiting to see the drones get kicked out. Then, around the 3rd week of November, a bear got my bees & destroyed a bunch of comb. Pretty much immediately there were dead drones all over the ground.

      Last year, I harvested in October, and there were lots of drones. Right after I harvested, the drones got tossed out of the hive.

      It's horrible seeing all the dead bees, but it's a good sign, too. It means that you have live bees who are cleaning up. Anyway, we're in the homestretch now!

  4. I was right next to it, these poor boys (still guessing) it was drones. Got themselves stung, a lot and dragged a little then dropped. I figured it it was true robbing there would have been many more than just the 7 or 8 I saw. Just guessing that robbing would look like full out pandemonium, this group just seem like bees thrilled to get out and enjoy the weather. 61 again today, waiting for some big rains to come in. I took off my mouse guards because they became caked with solid ice during the storm, I know I'm probably taking a chance here but I didn't bother to put them back on. Figuring any mice would have found winter homes by now. Homing your right about the homestretch!


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